Summit raises many memories
By Jo Robinson - Ethnic of love
Sitting in the Black and Brown Male Summit gave sense to forgotten quandaries from my childhood.
The eighth annual Black and Brown Male Summit, was held on Nov. 18. It was advertised that men of color should attend, and me, being a black male, decided I should go.
The whole day was filled with men of color in their late 20s to mid 40s who told really cool stories of how they traversed the education field to get far in life.
One noticeable thing they all seemed to acknowledge, was the struggle of being a minority male in school.
During this summit, I experienced stories that randomly invoked peculiar moments that I remembered from primary school.
One such example being when the keynote speaker, Jason Chu, who is Asian American, told the audience about his grandmother's inherently racist bias against black people when she immigrated to America.
He attributed it to the media representation of black culture in American media, such as gang violence, oversexualization of black women's bodies, the improper vernacular used in television shows or rap songs, etc.
When I heard about Chu's grandmother, I remembered the discomfort I felt whenever my friends brought me to their homes while their grandparents were around.
For some reason, when he told us about his grandmother, the long forgotten tense silences, strained smiles, and long stares I had received upon first entering a friend's home once again confounded me.
The odd reasons my friends gave to explain why we couldn't study at their house anymore, suddenly burned its way from the back to the front of my mind.
Chu spoke about his battle with racism in his community.
"It is a norm in my culture to feel uncomfortable with African Americans, but that is a setback to the whole minorities becoming successful thing," Chu said. "We truly can't reach it without all of us validating each other's truth of self."
In the end, I learned that some aspects of American racism span all throughout the world, and the way in which we can combat it is by addressing the fear and anger some of the older generations of our families hold against people they know nothing about.
A lot of the time I find myself biting my tongue whenever I hear something that has made me uncomfortable in an otherwise normal situation.
One such time was when I finally spoke up about the conservative thoughts expressed by my great-uncles on women in the work place.
I found three things that day, one being my courage; another being the ability to exchange in an extremely long conversation with stubborn old men; and thirdly, that if I could address some of the prejudices the people closest to me hold, I can become bolder when I hear blatant sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and overall nasty remarks on the street.